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DENVER – Gintare Sakinyte, aka Moyassar Issa, age 27, pled guilty last week to committing fraud and related criminal activity in connection with the false use of counterfeit credit cards. Sakinyte used fraudulent credit cards to purchase iPods at Target stores in Chicago, Illinois and throughout the Front Range, including Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The cards contained stolen information obtained by “skimming,” where an authorized retail agent makes an unauthorized copy of the data contained on a credit card’s magnetic strip. Sakinyte is in federal custody, being held without bond, pending a resolution of her case.
Gintare Sakinyte was charged by Criminal Complaint on November 4, 2008. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on December 1, 2008. She then pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane on June 5, 2009. Sakinyte is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kane on August 14, 2009.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, Target fraud investigators in Chicago had notified all of their stores across the country to be on the lookout for a woman using counterfeit credit cards to purchase iPods. On October 29, 2008, Colorado Springs Police were dispatched to a Target store in reference to a fraud in progress. Target fraud investigators observed the woman pictured in the warning in their electronics department. Officers contacted her. Sakinyte had fake identification documentation and counterfeit stolen credit cards on her person and in her car. Further, investigators found in the car a laptop, a thumb drive, a magnetic strip reader/encoder machine, and a GPS device, all used to aide in the fraud. She was then arrested.
The items in the defendant’s possession are commonly used to skim credit card numbers. Investigators believe someone working at gas stations in Chicago, Illinois and Bergenfield, New Jersey skimmed credit cards of patrons. Card skimming is a method used by criminals to capture data from the magnetic strip on the back of a debit or credit card. The information is then transferred to fraudulent credits cards. These cards usually have the name of the user on the front, but a different name and account number of the strip.
Further investigation revealed that Sakinyte had traveled across the country implementing this fraudulent scheme. She went to Target Stores in Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio, and Kentucky. She also went to several Wal-Marts. In total, Sakinyte is believed to have stolen nearly $48,000 by using stolen credit card information to purchase iPods.
“Credit card skimming and identity theft pose a serious problem for consumers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “This case is a good example of why we must be ever vigilant in protecting our personal information.”
“Postal Inspectors work aggressively to investigate identity theft involving the fraudulent use of credit cards,” stated Shawn Tiller, Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. “This investigation is a positive example of how the Postal Inspection Service partners effectively with investigators in the private sector to combat identity theft.”
Sakinyte faces up to 10 years in federal prison and not more than a $250,000 fine per count for the two counts of fraud and related activity in connection with access devices. She also faces paying restitution to the victims of the crime.
This investigation was led by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, including federal agents in the Postal Inspection Service’s Colorado Springs office, with assistance from the United States Secret Service, Target Stores fraud investigators and the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Sakinyte is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Mackey.
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